The mid-to-late `90s hey-day of now defunct Charlotte rock clubs like Fat City in NoDa and SouthEnd’s Tremont Music Hall was a rich time for independent bands touring up and down the East Coast.
For Atlanta’s Ultrababyfat Charlotte became a second home where they could catch up with friends and fellow musicians like Scott Weaver, who often did their makeup before shows or for photo shoots.
“We just hung out. That’s how Charlotte is for us, even all these years later,” says Ultrababyfat’s Shonali Bhowmik. “That’s the best thing about music, especially if you toured when there was this community. We weren’t competing with the internet or games or EDM experiences.”
It’s been 17 years since Ultrababyfat last played Charlotte – with comedian David Cross, no less. But thanks to an invitation from Boone’s reunited Husbians and the twentieth anniversary of Atlanta’s The Earl, Bhowmik and co-founder best friend Michelle DuBois have gotten the band back together for two shows. They play Snug Harbor Saturday.
The mini reunion didn’t come as much of a surprise to the childhood best friends. They’d lready discussed playing together again despite the distance. DuBois is in Atlanta, while Bhowmik is a New York City contract lawyer who also moonlights as a comedian and musician.
“Even as kids we said we were going to play rock n’ roll together at age 85,” says Bhowmik.
The duo met in fourth grade when their parents suggested they practice violin together.
“We laughed so hard and didn’t practice,” Bhowmik recalls. “We switched to clarinet together and our violin teacher was in tears. No I know why she was crying. How much cooler is the violin? And we were good.”
Rock n’ roll wasn’t far behind.
“Music kept us out of trouble. We were really good girls,” she says. Eventually they founded Ultrababyfat – a band as bubbly, fun, and sometimes as tongue-in-cheek as its name.
“It’s so cutesy,” she says of the name they chose. “At the time we were making fun of ourselves. We worked at Baskin Robbins in high school.”
Ultrababyfat released three albums, but aside from a release show in Atlanta they’d stopped playing by the time the last one was released in 2006. DuBois went to grad school and Bhowmik headed to New York at the behest of Cross, who encouraged her to pursue comedy. Bhowmik formed the female comedy group Variety Shac with “Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s” Chelsea Peretti and comedian/actress Andrea Rosen.
In addition to producing and directing comedy and shorts, she’s appeared on “At Home With Amy Sedaris” and Rebel Wilson’s 2019 film “Isn’t It Romantic?”
“It’s not easy in terms of finance, but it was much easier for me as a creative person,” she says of New York. “People are so kind and ask you to do all kinds of art. I had a casting director from ‘Conan’ come to one of my rock shows and said, ‘You should do bits on Conan.’ You put things out there and there’s a lot that comes from it.”
Twenty years later she is still reaping the rewards of the friendships formed and the songs made during Ultrababyfat’s run. The songs came flooding back through muscle memory.
“It’s amazing to feel confident as a musician and see how far you’ve come. Even the lyrics are embedded in me,” she says.
Who knows. These two shows could be the start of something more.